Grew up… playing games with his father, Thomas. In order to get the shy Oskar out of his shell, Thomas would devise elaborate games and scavenger hunts using a riddle. He would give Oskar a task, and then the young boy would go out into the world and complete that task.
Living… with his mother. Oskar has been in mourning following his father’s death in the World Trade Center on 9/11. In searching the family home, 9-year-old Oskar has come across a clue that he believes will lead him to learn a secret about his father: a key in an envelope with the word “Black” on it.
Visiting… every person with the name Black in New York City. Oskar is determined to see what the key fits, because he is convinced that his father left it for him to find. He has calculated that it will take him three years of searching every weekend to get through all the city’s residents named Black, but the boy is uncommonly driven.
Interests… solving puzzles, figuratively speaking. Oskar has always loved figuring things out. In his words, “I started with a simple problem… a key with no lock… and I designed a system I thought fit the problem. I broke everything down… and tried to think of each person as a number… in a gigantic equation.”
Challenge… figuring out his father’s last riddle. Oskar is looking to find some sort of meaning in all of the destruction and death that he’s seen lately. Now that he has his clue, he’s ready to go out into New York City and, despite his shyness, meet the people who may have answers.
Personality… curious and inquisitive, but painfully shy. Oskar does not yet possess the social abilities that he’ll need to succeed in the world. By solving riddles, though, he’s learned to interact with his environment and with other people, and see things anew. Regardless of whether or not Oskar finds out what the key opens, the pursuit figures to do him a lot of good.
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